IT organizations build many processes during the software development lifecycle to enforce responsibility, accountability to bring in quality deliverable. More than processes the key to achieving quality deliverables is to be self disciplined. If each and every member in the team understands his/her roles and responsibilities and be self disciplined in what they are supposed to do then there is no need for enforcement of work. Ultimately it is the quality of the work that is delivered that matters and if each one is self disciplined in executing the work then automatically the quality of the work improves significantly. This is what agile tries to preach. Here is a good excerpt on self discipline from the book “Agile Project Management” by Jim Highsmith.
Self-discipline enables freedom and empowerment. When individuals and teams want more autonomy, they must exercise greater self-discipline. One of the acute dangers of process-centric development and project management is that they remove any incentive for self-discipline. When managers impose discipline through detailed processes - ‘follow this process or else’ - they stifle initiative and self-discipline. These same managers then turn around and complain, “Why doesn’t anyone around here take any initiative or accept any responsibility?” Imposed-disciplined teams gets things accomplished. Self-disciplined teams accomplish near-miraculous things.
- Accept accountability for results
- Confront reality through rigorous thinking
- Engage in intense interaction and debate
- Work willingly within a self-organizing framework
- Respect colleagues
Dialogue, discussion and participatory decision making are all part of building self-discipline. Self-discipline is also built on competence, persistence and the willingness to assume accountability for results. Competence is more than skill and ability; it’s attitude and experience. Get the right people involved, and self discipline comes more easily. Get the wrong people, and imposed discipline creeps in, destroying trust, respect, and the egalitarian atmosphere. One reason would-be agile teams don’t succeed is that they fail to realize the self-discipline required. There is no binary switch to go from no discipline to self-discipline; it’s a journey that some individuals get right away, while others need to take a longer trip.
Well one doesn’t need any more explanation on the need for a self-disciplined team for accomplishing near-miraculous things. Are you self disciplined?
This post is part of the Foundation Stone series.